Traveler by Jerry Douglas
Jerry Douglas’ Dobro-playing style is so refined and his progressive roots-music listener base so faithful that the well-known member of Alison Krauss & Union Station could virtually sleepwalk through the rest of his career and do just fine.
However, Douglas appears to be fully conscious of other possibilities; the virtuoso’s last few efforts in particular have showcased his varied tastes, making it clear that his bluegrass moorings haven’t restrained his ability to move freely in whatever stylistic direction suits him. On Traveler, he migrates adroitly between musical regions on both Dobro and guitar while maintaining a strong Southcentric focus.
Often, eclectic affairs such as this one suffer by aiming at too many targets, but Traveler’s artful conception allows for diversion without forgetting where it’s going.
For starters, the disc attains perhaps the perfect balance of vocal tracks and instrumentals (both featuring an impressive slate of guests), making neither seem like filler or afterthought. While the set is dominated by a soulful New Orleans-meets-the Mississippi-Delta flavor, Douglas veers toward country and bluegrass territory as he brings the album to a close, effectively taking the listener on a kind of musical excursion.
The steadfastly Music City-bound tourist may get restless on a trip like this one, but adventurous roots-music aficionados will want to book themselves a date for Traveler, a masterfully planned Dixieland journey that lets the good times roll easy.